Study Tour to Brussels and The Hague

26–29 January 2015

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Accompanied by Dr Stephen Hurt and Dr Mikko Kuisma, the MA International Relations students travelled to Brussels and The Hague for a fun and intellectually stimulating trip. The tour offered a real insight into the world of international politics and the variety of challenges that we face in the twenty-first century.

The team travelled to the Directorate-General Justice (a part of the European Commission that seeks to ensure that individuals within the EU enjoy freedom, security and justice). They enjoyed an open and informative talk on Gender Equality, which offered a fascinating insight into the tensions both between different parts of the Commission and the broader relationship between EU member states and the various DGs.

The trip also included a tour of the main debating chamber of the European Parliament and a meeting, at The Hague, with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The team were treated to a presentation about the diplomatic work that goes on behind the scenes as they attempt to convince the few remaining states in the world who are yet to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. They were also shown the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 2013, and learnt about how they were spending the prize money.

Before stocking up on chocolate in Belgium and heading home, the team visited the International Criminal Court, where they enjoyed an engaging presentation about the work of the ICC before viewing some live proceedings in the court itself.

I really enjoyed the trip. We were able to visit institutions that we wouldn't have been able to as individuals and in particular I found the OPCW very interesting. It was also good to get some experience of things that have come up in our studies.

Helen Whyman

I thought the study trip was a great experience. It was very interesting to see and hear what the presenters had to tell us. The visits to DG Justice and the OPCW were particularly interesting. I was not expecting them to be so open about the work that they do, and it was very interesting to listen to the challenges they experience in their work. I had never been to Brussels or The Hague before, so it was good fun to see some new places as well!

Martin Mogstad

The trip was a great experience which gave us first-hand knowledge of important organisations and structures of governance such as the European Union in Brussels and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Having studied these leading institutions in theory it was an exhilarating opportunity to appreciate them in practice.

Claudia Le Blanc